Blogging – two years in

Today, it’s two years since I first began writing this blog. Quite honestly, writing has changed everything about how I conduct my life. To some extent I’m driven; when you start something and then discover you have an audience, you feel the need to feed it. In the early days I posted every day. Six months in I realised this wasn’t necessary and I started posting less frequently. One of the things that has kept me posting regularly is ‘School’s out Friday‘. If I do nothing else, I always do my best to get a post up on a Friday – I like having a constant, something that readers know will be there that adds levity to the usually serious nature of the postings here. I wonder, if not for School’s out Friday, would I be contributing as frequently as I do?

I’ve found it harder to come up with what I consider interesting posts. When I started, a lot of this blog was about finding new tools and talking about them. I think it’s become more philosophical; I feel a need to add to the conversations but I want to be contributing something worthy, not just fluff and nonsense. That brings with it it’s own pressure; once again, it’s the self inflicted kind. If there’s something I know about myself it’s that I am my harshest critic. I rarely begin posts and not publish them; most of the time I can get something together quite quickly, but it’s the thinking about them prior to the writing that eats up time.

But what wonders have befallen me since I took the plunge and exposed my thoughts to the world! I am so enriched by this experience. I’ve been able to interact with readers and share insights. I’ve had opportunities to present at conferences, I’ve travelled to Shanghai and met members of my PLN face to face, I’ve been invited to join a Reference Group informing the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) as they prepare a Digital Research Network, I’ve been the recipient of The John Ward Award from the School Library Association of Victoria, and, in 10 days, I travel to the United States where I’ll get to experience the wonders of New York City and the Educon 2.2 conference in Philadelphia. In April I’ll be presenting at ACEC’s Digital Diversity conference and in June, I will travel to the States again to present at ISTE in Colorado. None of those things would be possible had I not taken a bit of a risk and started to write this blog.

So, thank you, Lucacept. You were a little germ of an idea that I thought might be interesting. You’ve grown into a whole lot more, and now, you are a part of me. You’ve spawned a different life for your creator; I have no cognitive surplus, I’m thinking pretty much 24/7, but I like it. Stick around. : )

Cognitive surplus – that’s what I had (until I started writing this blog!)

Clay Shirky, author of ‘Here comes everybody’ recently presented at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. It’s a presentation to watch and absorb and think about.  So much of what he had to say resonated for me. He talked of cognitive surplus; the idea of utilising free time productively rather than masking the cognitive surplus to engage in tasks like watching television. I feel like I am using my cognitive surplus to the max right now. Television hardly factors into my day anymore – I’m much more interested in expanding my learning via this online environment.

Clay makes reference to his childhood and the countless times he watched re-runs of Gilligan’s island – he muses how this time could have been utilised differently.  I can only concur. I’d have to add The Brady Bunch to the mix as well. The hours spent in childhood dedicated to re-runs was time wasting at its best.

He recounts a discussion with a TV producer about the cognitive surplas required to amass the pages;

So how big is that surplus? So if you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project–every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in–that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin Wattenberg at IBM; it’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it’s the right order of magnitude, about 100 million hours of thought.

And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that’s 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television. Or put still another way, in the U.S., we spend 100 million hours every weekend, just watching the ads.  

Makes you think, doesn’t it? Just what are we capable of achieving, if we can channel some of that time into the generation of new ideas rather than the passive pursuit of television watching? Watch the video or read the transcript from Clay’s blog – you won’t be passively watching – your mind will be ticking over with the ideas he presents and I’ll bet he’ll be dinner conversation in quite a few households. (maybe even a few staffrooms!) 

Thanks to Dean Shareski for pointing me to Clay’s blog via Twitter.